Regularly fluctuating somatic cell count pattern in dairy herds

Z. Deng*, T.J.G.M. Lam, H. Hogeveen, G. Koop

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Online somatic cell count (SCC) measurement is widely used in dairy herds milked with automatic milking systems (AMS) and gives the opportunity to closely monitor individual cow udder health. Using automated SCC data, we observed cows displaying a remarkably regularly fluctuating SCC (rfSCC) pattern, which is described in this study. We aimed to (1) estimate the prevalence of rfSCC in cows milked by AMS, (2) characterize the rfSCC pattern, and (3) identify factors potentially associated with the rfSCC pattern. We analyzed 30-d episodes of composite SCC recordings of 1,000 cows from 55 dairy herds from 6 countries using an AMS with automated SCC measurement, and we identified the rfSCC pattern in 4.7% (95% CI: 3.5–6.2%) of these episodes. The rfSCC episodes had a median SCC of 701 × 1,000 cells/mL (2.5–97.5% quantile: 539–1,162), a median amplitude of 552 × 1,000 cells/mL (2.5–97.5% quantile: 409–886), and a median cycle length of 4.1 d (2.5–97.5% quantile: 3.7–4.9). Bacteriological culture data from quarter-milk samples collected every 2 wk in 1 Dutch AMS herd were analyzed, yielding no clear association between pathogen species and the rfSCC pattern found in that herd. Altogether, we described an intriguing phenomenon, present in almost 5% of the cows during a 1-mo study period. Further work is needed to quantify its importance in terms of udder health, but also to elucidate the mechanism behind this remarkable SCC pattern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11126-11134
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number10
Early online date16 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • automatic milking system
  • mastitis
  • regularly fluctuating somatic cell count


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